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Method and Apparatus for Tooltips Displayed a Limited Number of Times and Manually Dismissable

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000016091D
Original Publication Date: 2002-Jun-16
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Jun-21

Publishing Venue



Disclosed is an invention that provides a tooltip system which displays a tooltip only a limited number of times (mostly likely, only once or twice) and also allows the tooltip to be dismissed by the user on command instead of waiting for the tooltip display time to expire or the user to move outside of the component to which the tooltip applies. The limited number of times may be per application session or per user session. In the application usage model, each time an application is restarted the tooltip would be displayed some number of times, but after that, the tooltip would not be shown again until the application is restarted. Instead of using the application session model, the tooltips could be displayed a certain number of times for each user of the application. After the user saw a tooltip that certain number of times, the tooltip would not be displayed again unless the user explicitly reset the tooltip display counters. Occasionally, tooltips are displayed in the way of the component that the user intends to work with to accomplish the desired task; this more commonly occurs when a component if fairly large. This invention allows the user to explicitly dismiss the tooltip, such as by clicking on the tooltip itself or hitting a particular key, thereby increasing usability and user efficiency by more quickly dismissing the tooltip. In addition to manually dismissing the tooltip each time it is displayed, the tooltip could be equipped with a permanent dismissal device, such as a checkbox, which when checked would cause the tooltip to not be displayed again at all unless the user reactivates all the tooltips through some other action. For each tooltip in an application, a counter is associated with the tooltip. Each time a tooltip is displayed, the counter is decremented. When the counter runs out, the tooltip is no longer displayed. When the application restarts or a new user opens the application, the counters would be reset depending on which counter reset model was chosen (per application session or per user session). For components of an application that are used often, the user will see the tooltips a few times, but then will not be bothered with them any more. For components of the application that are infrequently used by a user, the tooltips will be accessible when needed for that rare instance. This way, the user has the best of both worlds the common areas of the application are not cluttered with tooltips yet the tooltips for the infrequently used areas have the tooltips displayed when they are needed. Regardless of whether or not the tooltip has a counter associated with it (no counter indicates that the tooltip should be displayed an infinite number of times), the tooltip can be outfitted with a mechanism to explicitly dismiss the tooltip for a particular component or sub-component. A tooltip may be needed at some times but not at others, and this invention allows the user to see the tooltip if necessary but quickly and easily dismiss the tooltip if the user does not want to see it at that moment. For example, a user sees a list of elements, each of which have a tooltip. The user interface allows the user to turn the tooltips for this list on or off, but it does not give the user the option to turn off tooltips to individual elements in the list. However, after seeing the tooltip for a particular list item once or twice, the user probably does not need to see the tooltip 1